A new image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope shows a supernova remnant created by a massive exploding star.
The mid-infrared image shows the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A which was created by an event 340 years ago, from Earth’s perspective.
Located 11,000 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia, Cassiopeia A is the youngest known remnant from an exploding, massive star in our galaxy. It spans about 10 light-years.
While Cassiopeia A is a prototypical supernova remnant that has been widely studied, Webb’s infrared capability allows researchers to see in new detail.
This new image, in which visible-light wavelengths are converted into infrared lights, contains scientific information.
At the bubble’s top left, the warm dust emission curtains in orange and red are indicators of the area where the material from an exploded star collides with the surrounding dust and circumstellar gases.
The bright pink is material from the star, which shines due to dust emission and heavy elements.
The green loops extends across the right side of the central cavity.
Scientists are still trying to determine all the sources of emission.
The stellar material is also shown as fainter wisps that are near the cavity’s interior.
By studying this supernova remnant with Webb, astronomers hope to gain a better understanding of its dust content and, in turn, where the building blocks of planets and ourselves are created.
Even very young galaxies are composed of dust.
“By understanding the process of exploding stars, we’re reading our own origin story,” Purdue University’s Danny Milisavljevic, the principal investigator of the Webb program that captured these observations, said in a statement. “I’m going to spend the rest of my career trying to understand what’s in this data set.”
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